US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday that US President George W. Bush has decided to make ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "one of the highest priorities of his administration." An international peace conference expected to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, in the fall has to be serious and substantive, Rice said at a press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "We frankly have better things to do than invite people to Annapolis for a photo op," she said. Israelis and Palestinians, Rice observed, are making their "most serious effort" in years to resolve the conflict. "Frankly, it's time for the establishment of a Palestinian state," she added.No word if she was ready to lend a hand to end the Palestinian Occupation of Samaritan lands as she posed in her Kodak moment press conference with PA Chairman Abbas. And speaking of Samaritans, the Globe and Mail just happened to carry this rather timely article on the goings on in the ancient Samaritan community outside of Nablus. I am not about to stick a toe into a debate about the relative Jewishness of Samaritans in general but reading this piece I was struck by the notion that the Palestinian Authority will consider them far too Jew to be left in their very ancient homeland.
MOUNT GERIZIM, West Bank — There are two ways to look at the journey Wada Cohen took to the south of Ukraine a few years ago. Both are told in this remote hilltop village that is one of the last outposts of the biblical sect known as the Samaritans.Geopolitics aside for a moment - does anyone know how this tradition is reasoned or the basis for it within the Samaritan community? I am quite curious because I think the very opposite can be effectively argued.
In one version, whispered among the women who gather on street corners to gossip the afternoon away, Mr. Cohen was a lonely man who couldn't find a local woman, forced to look for companionship at a faraway marriage agency. In the other, told by his approving father and some of the other village elders, Mr. Cohen's journey to meet and bring back a bride named Alexandra Krasyuk may just save the Samaritans from extinction.
For millennia, the Samaritans - descendants of the ancient Israelites who practise their own religion based on the Torah - have been slowly dying away, their numbers diminishing to exactly 701 today. Half of them live here on the rocky foothills of Mount Gerizim, a craggy outcrop that looms over the chaotic West Bank town of Nablus.
The Samaritans' numbers have dwindled because of an ancient tradition of marrying only within the community, a strictly observed rule that led to a dwindling gene pool and a rising number of birth defects. The streets of this village are filled with dark-haired young men and women with malformed limbs, twisted faces and speechless tongues.